YOU’LL BE YOUR OWN DEMISE
Arnoud-Jan Bijsterveld, in collaboration with the Camp Vught National Monument, Frank van Doorn & Jasper van der Schoot
Hertheuvelsehoef 6, Eersel
In the summer of 1944, unmarried brothers Janus (60), Jan (58) and Driek Hoeks (54) lived together at Hertheuvelsehoef, a farm on the border between Eersel and Bergeijk. The farm was owned by the Postel Abbey. Janus arranged the field work and dealt with all the trading. Jan did the housework and Driek, the youngest, was the carpenter. After May 1940, they lived in relative ease on their remote farm, never wanting for food.
That is until the spring of 1944. One evening, a priest from Postel Abbey paid a visit to the Hoeks brothers.
He came to ask for a shelter for his brother and the brother of another priest. Of the two young men, one had been working with the resistance, the other didn’t want to work in Germany. Although the three brothers were initially hesitant, in the end, they agreed. Despite the danger, they believed that the abbey, and therefore the young men, deserved their help.
They set up a hiding place in the barn, and for months, things went just fine. The men in hiding cooked their own meals and could often be seen outside around the farm. Piet van Woerkum, who worked with the local resistance, arranged all the food coupons. One of their fiancées visited the Hertheuvelsehoef several times. The first time, Jan Hoeks picked her up at the bus stop.
On 6 July 1944, she was arrested by the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Services) in Nijmegen, probably because they were looking for the resistance fighter. Her father then immediately travelled to Eersel to warn Piet van Woerkum, which allowed the men in hiding to escape to another place straight away. Van Woerkum told the Hoeks brothers that they too were in danger, but they didn’t take it too seriously. And in any case, they couldn’t just leave the farm behind.
They erased all traces of the men who had been in hiding.
The next day, around 12:30 in the afternoon, a car pulled up to the farm. Six armed Germans got out, along with the arrested fiancée. Janus and Jan had just laid down for their afternoon nap and Driek was reading the newspaper in the kitchen. But they were quickly rounded up and when asked about the people in hiding they denied any involvement, even when a shown a picture of one of the men they helped. Through tears, the fiancée confessed that this farm was the hiding place and pointed to Jan as the person who picked her up at the bus stop. The brothers continued to deny any involvement. First Janus and later Jan were taken into the front room and beaten, as Driek listened, deathly pale and powerless. All brothers stayed silent, confessing to nothing.
After a short debate, the Germans dragged Janus and Jan to the car, while Driek was kept at gunpoint. He remarked dryly, “You’ll be your own demise.” He stayed behind on the farm, alone. That evening, he and his sister, Digna Sijmens-Hoekks, visited Janus and Jan at the military barracks. They were bloodied and swollen after being beaten with clubs.
The guard on duty, who had known the brothers for years, gave them the opportunity to escape twice, but they refused out of fear of reprisals against the family.
A bribe of 100 pre-war cigars was no use, either. In the end, Jan and Jan were taken to Camp Vught, where the two brothers were executed at nine in the evening on 11 August 1944.
In November 1944, their sister collected her brothers’ belongings in Vught: an old, worn jacket, a pair of trousers, and a watch. Driek remained behind, defeated, for another year on the farm. He sowed the fields one more time, but never reaped the harvest. He left the farm a broken man. Driek died at the age of 80 in 1970. He carried a picture of his two older brothers until the day he died.
In 1948, the Akkerstraat in Eersel was renamed the Gebroeders Hoeksstraat, or Hoeks Brothers Street. Janus and Jan Hoeks are immortalised in one of the stained glass windows In the Maria Chapel on the Market in Eersel.
Driek Hoeks’ grave